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Manhunt continues for suspects in Centerville kidnapping, assault

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CENTERVILLE — An extensive, widespread search continued Thursday for a father and son who police say lured a woman and her four teen daughters to a house in Centerville to assault them and hold them hostage at gunpoint.

Police say Dereck James "DJ" Harrison, 22, of Centerville, and his father, Flint Wayne Harrison, 51, of Wyoming, should be considered armed and dangerous.

But DJ Harrison's mother, MayAnn Harrison, said she believes her son was coming down from a methamphetamine high and is now scared and confused. She pleaded Thursday for her son to return home or turn himself in.

"I'm so sorry this happened, more than anyone will ever know. I just feel ripped apart inside," she said.

On Tuesday, DJ and Flint Harrison invited a Clinton mother and her daughters to a home at 190 N. 700 East, allegedly for a barbecue.

When the mom and her girls — ages 13, 15, 17 and 18 — arrived at the house, the men invited them to look at something in the basement. Once in the basement, the mother was assaulted with a baseball bat, the girls had a shotgun pointed at them, and the men attempted to bind them with zip ties and duct tape.

The girls managed to slip out of their zip ties and run out of the house. The mother and at least one daughter were taken to a local hospital.

By Wednesday afternoon, a no-bail arrest warrant was issued for the two men, charging them with five counts each of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, in addition to five counts of aggravated assault.

Flint Harrison's wife told authorities that he intends to "shoot any officers and go out in a blaze of glory" rather than return to prison, the arrest affidavit states.

The two men drove away from the house in a 2011 silver Chevrolet Suburban with Wyoming license plate AR83G. That vehicle was found abandoned in Farmington on Wednesday afternoon.

The search

Centerville Police Lt. Von Steenblik said his officers and the U.S. Marshal's Service combed the foothills above Farmington and Centerville on Wednesday afternoon and evening, and again Thursday morning on foot and with ATVs. The Utah Highway Patrol's helicopter with its infrared sensor was also used Wednesday night, he said. But no signs of the men were found.

Police originally received information from DJ Harrison's mother that the men were going to hide in the mountains. There was also a rumor the Harrisons had purchased a lot of camping equipment from a nearby Wal-Mart, Steenblik said.

"The marshals chased that (rumor) down. There's no truth in that," he said.

All of the Harrisons' camping equipment at their homes was also accounted for, Steenblik said.

Investigators believe the men were dropped off at a Ramada Inn in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night by an acquaintance. Police have tracked down that man, and possible charges against him were pending Thursday.

Steenblik said police were also looking into rumors that the father and son may have split up and are now traveling separately.

Initially, Steenblik described DJ Harrison's mother as being uncooperative with police. She was even placed in handcuffs at one point Wednesday night but ultimately was not arrested, he said.

Police confirmed she was the one who sent her son text messages shortly after the alleged kidnapping telling him she would help him hide. Detectives, however, intercepted those messages after finding DJ Harrison's cellphone left behind at the alleged crime scene, Steenblik said.

By Thursday morning, he said the mother and the family were being a little more cooperative with police.

"They very much understand now how serious this is," Steenblik said.

MaryAnn Harrison admits sending texts to her son, but she said her goal was just to get him back safe.

"My only motive was to find him. And I would have done anything to find him," she said.

MaryAnn Harrison said she hopes that her son and Flint Harrison have split up. There's a better chance that things can be resolved peacefully if they are apart, she said. If the two are still running together, she believes it could end "ugly."

"I think (Flint Harrison is) a dangerous man," she said. "Especially on methamphetamines."

A possible motive

Police also learned more about the connection between DJ Harrison and the mother of the four daughters. Steenblik said the man was very close to that family and visited them a lot, even picking up the girls from school once in a while. They considered him like a stepbrother, Steenblik said, which is why they were so shocked he would attack them.

MaryAnn Harrison confirmed Thursday that she and her son were close with the alleged victims.

"I love those girls so much," she said.

Police were looking at the possibility that DJ Harrison was on drugs at the time of the incident, which made him paranoid. Steenblik said the man apparently believed the mother had done something against him.

"The accusation that DJ had made against the mother was that she had ratted them out in someway. And we belive that is DJ's perceived paranoia, because the victim is telling us she didn't do anything. There's nothing there. And we don't believe she did anything," he said.

MaryAnn Harrison also believes drugs played a big part in DJ Harrison's actions.

"This isn't my son. This is the methamphetamines," she said. "He would never hurt this family. This is a family that we love."

Court records show prior to this incident, DJ Harrison did not have a criminal record.

"There is nothing to ever lead me to believe he could do something like this," MaryAnn Harrison said.

She said her son is probably coming off his high, and he's realized what he's done.

"I know right now they're confused and scared, and don't know what to do," she said.

Steenblik said the five women who were allegedly held hostage were still very concerned for their safety Thursday.

Anyone with information about the men's whereabouts is asked to contact police by calling a specially designated tip line at 801-335-8844.

"These guys can't hide forever. Eventually they'll pop up somewhere," Steenblik said.

Contributing: Mike Anderson, Shara Park

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